A nation of sheep begets a government of wolves

Muhammad and his dog Fila

When I heard his mother screamed at him, I scooted under the table, frightened by the loud shrieky voice. His father came next, hollering at the top of his voice for some reason I wasn’t sure. Muhammad stood his ground and tried to rationalize with his parents but they took no heed and interrupted his explanation.

“What are you doing with this dog?’ his mother shrieked. “Get it out of this house this instant, Muhammad!”

“But Mother, Islam doesn’t forbid-”

“You get it out the house before I kick it out!” His father snapped. “You know damn well we are Malays and we don’t keep keep dogs as pets. Islam forbids this.”

I was very afraid, I didn’t know what Islam was at that moment, I pawed my face in fear because Muhammad’s mother brought a broom to swing at me but the young man caught the wooden pole before it could land at my face.

“Mother…please! This is wrong! The Quran didn’t mention about prohibition about keeping dogs. In fact there is a surah al-kahf which mentions several God-fearing people in a cave with their dog,” Muhammad interjected. “Interpretations of the Hadith may be misconstrued into believing that dogs are unclean. Believe it or not, various Hadiths even contradict each other concerning dogs. And do we touch any animals and continue to eat without washing our hands? That is plain unhygienic and stupid.”


(excerpt from

1. It is NOT haram to own a dog, though it is not hygienic to keep a dog in the house.

2. It is NOT haram to touch a dog or any other animal. If the saliva of a dog touches you or any part of your clothing, then it is required of you to wash the body part touched and the item of clothing touched by the dog’s mouth or snout.

3. It is incumbent upon all Muslims who own animals, whether for farming or work purposes or as pets, to provide adequate shelter, food, water, and, when needed, veterinary care for their animals. Arrangements must be made, if one is going to be away from home, to have one’s animals taken care of as well.

4. It is haram to keep a dog or any other animal on a short lead for long periods without food, water, and shelter. Dogs need exercise and are social creatures who form organized “family” structures in nature. Dog owners therefore need to spend time daily with their dogs.

5. It is cruel, and therefore haram, to keep any animal in a cage so small that it cannot behave in a natural way.

6. Fireworks cause untold suffering to most domestic animals because of their acute sense of hearing.

7. It is haram to participate in any blood “sport,” like dog fighting and trophy hunting.

No animal has been cursed in any way. Animals are referred to in many instances in the Quran. In surah al-kahf, mention is made of the companions of the Cave and their dog. (S18: 18-22)

Muhammad’s mother was enraged. “You dare question our religion? You know you speak of blasphemy? Have you no sense?”

Muhammad bent down and took me in his arms. His touch was comforting but his heart was beating fast. “This creature is a beloved creation of God. This golden retriever puppy can grow and learn to lead the blind. She can find and rescue people. She could even learn to work and stop bad guys from delivering drugs. This house will be protected by this gentle canine and one day, even Fila can save our lives. Dogs are far better than cats, Mother. They do nothing but eat our food and steals them when we are not looking. Surely dogs are far better use than cats. Even these days cats don’t do their jobs in hunting rats.”

“What you say is true but Islam doesn’t allow us to keep dogs, son,” Muhammad’s father replied. “We are Malays, imagine our neighbors who see us keeping such a pet.”

“Father, is there a single injunction from God that command us such? Is there such parable in the Quran? Are we to believe Hadiths which may have been fabricated by Arabs who hated this animal? Those days, dogs are not domesticated as much as today, the Byzantines have wicked war dogs that would tear the enemy apart. It would’ve been common sense that people during those times to fear dogs. But not today. Our people’s view on dogs is too shallow and lacking in exploration. People fear what they do not know, I suggest we all should learn more and question our ways.”

Muhammad brought me into his room and gave me my first lunch in the house- a packet of chicken rice. Woof!


One Response to “Muhammad and his dog Fila”

  1. I had the opportunity and privilege when I was residing in a rustic private residence in Seletar Camp to keep a dog. I found a bouncing labrador puppy near the market and took her home. My parents were not staying with me and that time, I was living by myself. Beleaguered with domestic problems, I was clinically depressed but that puppy which I brought home gave me a new lease of life.

    I was dedicated to Fifi, my pet labrador. I nurtured her, fed her, took her for evening walks like any other pet owners would. Each day as I headed home, fatigued and strained, Fifi never failed to greet me with joy. I kept her for almost two years. Visitors who came to visit me were very pleased to find Fifi so friendly and good with kids. I was happy finally. My depression was cured.

    It came a time when I had to move out to live in a public housing. Fifi had to go because the law do not allow big dogs like Fifi, and with a very heavy heart, I gave her to my neighbor. I could still remember as I walked out from the gate, I looked back and saw Fifi waiting for me to return, sitting on her heels, upright, her eyes glazed under the midday sun. And I could see her sadness. She knew. And she also knew the sorrow in me.

    That was in year 2002. That was the last time I saw Fifi, my pet labrador. And my friends, I am Muslim, and the Quran never prohibit you from having a companion. I dedicate this post to Fifi. God bless.

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